A series of reports on Road Safety Karachi by Mr. Asad Jehangir is being published for the road users and also the traffic police officers for their guidance as well as for research. These reports will be very useful in taking some practical steps to make the traveling by road safer in the city.
Road Safety Karachi-2008
Asad Jahangir Khan
The Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center has taken a valuable initiative by establishing a Road Traffic Injury Research Center. This has the financial backing of Indus Motors and is being run by the staff and students of the NED University. The Aga Khan University Hospital is also closely associated in this project especially in the study of trauma related services.
The project strategy is to collect data from five major hospitals that deal with road injury cases. Thirty five research assistants collect the data which is then compiled and analyzed in the center located in JPMC. Data shows that 75.71% of all injured road users were transported to hospitals by private means and ambulances transported only 14.39%. This indicates that there is an urgent need for a trauma related ambulance service.
The road injury data collected in this manner gives us a picture which is very different from the data available with the Police. The police get information of injury accidents from the hospitals and investigate the case after registering an FIR. The registration requires a complainant and subsequent legal procedures. Therefore, the number of cases registered is merely a fraction of the actual number of road injury cases brought to the hospitals.
RTIRC recorded data relating to 32497 persons injured in traffic accidents in Karachi in the year 2008. This gives an average of 2708 road injury cases every month. In addition 1185 fatalities were recorded during the year at a monthly average of 98.75.
In contrast the Karachi police pursued the cases of only 959 injury and 655 fatalities for the entire year of 2008.This means that 31538 injured and 530 road users killed were not brought into the purview of the law and were deprived of third party insurance claims which is a mandatory requirement of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance.
There is, therefore, an urgent need for police to change its present policy of dealing with rash and negligent driving resulting in death and injury under the Penal Code. As a special law exists it would be much more beneficial for road accident victims if the Motor Vehicle Ordinance was applied instead of the Penal Code. Motor Vehicle Violations are dealt by Summary Procedure whereas Penal Code violations are substantive violations requiring a time consuming legal procedure. One study shows that it takes at least 30 months for a Penal Code violation to be decided in court. For these reasons the police needs to let the traffic police deal with accident cases in accordance with the provisions contained in the Motor Vehicle Ordinance.
INJURY SEVERITY OF 2008
Disposal 2008 Percentage
Minor 25023 (77.0%)
Serious 6289 (19.4%)
Fatal 1185 (3.6%)
Total 32497 (100.0%)
ANNUAL DATA OF ROAD USER GROUP (Jan 08-Dec 08)
Road Users Injury Percentage Fatal Percentage
Rider/Pillion Rider: Injury = 19595 (60%) Fatal= 441 (37%)
Pedestrian: Injury = 7168 (22%) Fatal= 457 (39%)
Passenger: Injury= 3642 (11%) Fatal= 163 (14%)
Driver: Injury= 855 (3%) Fatal= 44 (4%)
Unknown: Injury= 1237 (4%) Fatal= 80 (7%)
Total: Injury 32497 (100%) Fatal= 1185 (100%)
An analysis of road users involved in injury accidents shows that 60.0% (19595) were riders, 22.0% (7168) were pedestrians, 11.0% (3642) were passengers and 3.0%(855) were drivers.
In fatalities 42.8 %( 382) were riders, 37.8% (337) were pedestrians, 15.2% (136) were passengers and 4.2% (37) were drivers.
These figures show that the most vulnerable road user groups on the roads of Karachi are riders and pedestrians. The severity index shows that a pedestrian accident is more likely to be fatal. Whereas 37% riders were involved in fatal accidents, pedestrian involvement in fatal accidents topped with 39%.
The traffic managers, therefore, need to focus on these two most vulnerable groups. The pedestrians require good footpaths and safe road crossing facilities to save them from death and injury. Road safety strategies for pedestrians should take into account the fact that 457 pedestrians were killed in 2008.
There is also a need to make bus (including mini-bus) and other heavy vehicles safer for pedestrians. The front part of these vehicles should be soft and steel bumpers or steel additions need to be removed. The bus and truck bumpers are too high up in the body. Its impact with the pedestrian is focused on the lower hip. The body should be so fabricated that it impacts the whole body and throws the pedestrian away from the vehicle. Otherwise the pedestrian is pulled under the vehicle with disastrous consequences.
As far as riders are concerned, accidents reveal that riding skills are poor. Riders are also not visible to drivers of vehicles especially heavy vehicles in the traffic stream.
ROAD USER BY AGE GROUP
Road User Group Rider Pillion Rider Pedestrian Passenger Drivers
Age Rider Pillion Pedestrian Passenger Driver
<= 15 577 1153 1861 529 6
16 – 20 3135 1325 739 543 72
21 – 25 3701 1139 795 702 178
26 – 30 2587 634 622 539 170
31 – 35 1376 367 455 358 152
36 – 40 1056 289 531 292 101
41 – 45 653 187 384 209 65
46 – 50 437 132 473 171 38
51 – 55 224 88 276 83 27
56 – 60 151 64 482 114 19
61 + 113 83 492 83 18
According to age riders in the age group 16 to 40 are the most vulnerable. 577 riders involved in injury accidents were under 15. Riders between the age group 21 to 25 were the most prone to injury accident (3701) followed by riders in the age group 16-20 (3135). The age group 15 to 18 was involved in 5053 accidents which is 61% of all road users in that age group.
The analysis further reveals that only 8% of the riders who were injured were wearing a helmet. Accident statistics reveal that 86% of the fatalities amongst riders were caused by head injury. This means that 379 out of 441riders, who were killed in road accidents in 2008, died of head injury. Helmet use would have prevented those deaths.
There is a strong case for reducing the driving license eligibility age for riders from 18 to 16. Injury statistics shown above reveal a very large percentage of riders under 18.Lowering the age for obtaining a motor cycle license would bring the youth into the fold of law and make them law abiding.
The most important measure for preventing rider deaths is to make sure that all riders including pillion riders wear a helmet. In 2007, only 9% of the riders were wearing a helmet, in 2008 compliance to helmet law fell by 1%.The police have failed to enforce this law mainly because of lack of public support. It is time that the public stand behind the police to make sure that riders wear helmet. In doing this the public would help save hundreds of lives that are lost every year.
There is also a case for making it mandatory for motor cycle lights to be switched on while plying on roads. This is compulsory in all countries where road safety is good and they have found that this measure saves lives.
Compliance with law is generally poor amongst road users. We have already seen that riders (including pillion riders) do not wear a helmet. Drivers also do not put on seat belts. Only 3.45% of the injured drivers had seat belts on.
According to gender, females were involved in only 10.00% of all road traffic injuries.
A study of the location of accident reveals that 16.08% occurred at intersections and 83.92 % occurred at mid-block. Accidents at intersections are very high. It could be because intersections are not signalized. Those intersections that are signalized are either switched off or affected by load shedding. There is a strong case for signalizing intersections and, considering the blackouts which are a common feature, there is also a case for providing a system of uninterrupted power supply. There is also a need for traffic engineers to take a closer look at intersection designs to improve road safety.
Moreover, riders and pedestrians are the most vulnerable and they are mostly involved at both locations. While rider can be blamed for poor skills and failing to comply with rules, the pedestrian is a victim of civic neglect as pedestrian facilities are few and far between.
A survey of cause analysis reveals that 83.0% of all accidents were the result of road user fault, 13.93% were the result of road fault and 3.07% were a result of vehicle fault. Road fault percentage is very high and there is a case for improving road conditions to reduce accidents.
Typical week of road traffic can be seen below.
The highest number of injury accidents is noticed on Sundays. This may be due to holiday traffic and lack of traffic enforcement on Sundays. There is a need for traffic police to take a closer look at accidents on Sundays and design its enforcement strategy accordingly.
Variation in severity by time of day can be seen in the graph below:
Pedestrians and riders being the most vulnerable road user group involved in road accidents are the most threatened during peak hours of traffic.
A study of age groups in relation to their population can be seen in the chart below:
This shows that the most vulnerable age group involved in fatal accidents is between 21 and 35. This group is also the most productive in the economy of the city. Therefore, it is high time that the city government should pay more attention to providing a road and traffic environment which is safe. There is also a case for expediting a mass transit system. The most productive age group is also the one which is riding a motor bike. The high percentage of rider involvement in road accidents clearly spells out the need for this road user group to benefit from a mass transit system which, even current figures relating to passenger injuries show, is far safer than riding a bike.